Open Hardware Licensing
We're hoping to transition all of our hardware projects to the CERN Open Hardware License 1.1 (link, fulltext). To do this, we need consensus from those PLOTS community members who have contributed to hardware design, and ideally we need everyone who has contributed to license their contributions.
You can read Jeff Warren's original announcement here: http://publiclaboratory.org/notes/warren/3-9-2012/plots-adoption-cern-open-hardware-license
What this means
Why the CERN OHL?
The CERN OHL is an agreement to allow downstream users to reuse, remix, adapt, redistribute, and change your designs, without fear of patent litigation or that you'll assert patent ownership over their work. For users of PLOTS tools, it means that they will be free to use the designs forever -- that nobody "upstream" can change their mind and decide not to allow reuse. For contributors to PLOTS tools, it means that those who use your work will have to attribute it properly!
The CERN OHL is written specifically for hardware, and we've had a (pro bono) intellectual property lawyer look over the license (since it is fairly new) and have his support. Now, to make this work, PLOTS community researchers who've contributed to hardware projects in PLOTS will have to adopt the license, unanimously. So help get out the word!
Currently our designs are available under a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 3.0 Unported license (CC-BY-SA, or just "Creative Commons Sharealike" for short). This is visible at the bottom of all PLOTS web pages, and was part of the user agreement when you signed up for the site.
CC-BY-SA is great for content, in that it protects users of the content from legal action by the original author, while protecting the author's right to be attributed and to reuse in turn any additions by later contributors. This is -- legally -- how we all get along and share work at PLOTS. However, hardware designs need additional protections for both author ('inventor') and "downstream" users -- specifically, protection against patents -- the risk that others, whether inside PLOTS or not, will attempt to patent your work and challenge our open approach to community technology development.
Scope: What are you agreeing to license? This agreement extends only to the contributions you have already shared under our existing license, and only to hardware designs you have contributed to PLOTS tool development.
For more details, links, and discussion, see the more in-depth Open Hardware Licensing In Detail page
What you can do
At the bottom of this page is a form where you can put your name and a list of works you've contributed to. Please circulate this to other PLOTS contributors, especially those who don't engage much on the website or mailing list.
Also, if you'd like your name to appear on the "Contributors" list, take the time to publish a research note and tag it with the project you've worked on. It can be a token note just listing some of your work. If you'd like help with that, contact email@example.com for our Web working group.